Where to go when you’re done with finals but can’t go home yet


Carolyn Pallof | Staff Photographer

Phipps provides a warm greenhouse location to decompress after finals.

By MJ LaRocque, Staff Writer

The worst part of finals week is finishing everything and still having to stick around on campus and wait for a ride home. During the wait, there are plenty of free and inexpensive events around town to go to.

1. The Andy Warhol Museum, the largest museum in North America dedicated to just one artist, includes 1,000 prints, 4,000 photographs and 900 paintings. The leader of the 1960s pop art movement, Warhol was born in Pittsburgh and graduated from Carnegie Mellon University. The museum can be reached by taking any 61 or 71 Port Authority out of Oakland into Downtown, followed by a short walk across the aptly named Andy Warhol bridge. Student tickets are $10 with ID.

2. To brighten a gloomy Pittsburgh day, head to Randyland. Approaching the Fineview area, this museum is donation only and dedicated to positivity and happiness — something we can all use after finals. 

According to the website, Randy Gilson, the homeowner, gathered every brick from nearby, torn-down houses. The entire house is made of garbage that Gilson repurposed. In addition to everything going on in the house, guests might also experience one Gilson giving an inspirational speech as he paints.

After going to the museum this past summer, Tarryn O’Rourke, a first-year bioengineering major, said she found it to be a playful area, full of life and creativity.

“It was very colorful and it gave Randy the option the express himself and let other people enjoy his art and his personality,” she said. “It’s kind of like he threw up his personality onto this building, so it was cool to see.”

3. Just west of Randyland sits the Mattress Factory. This art museum’s installations are site-specific and, according to the museum’s website, they are designed to transform the perception of a space. It’s recommended that visitors take two to three hours out of their day to experience the museum with all of their senses. Visitors are encouraged to get up close and personal with the art.

Personal photographs are encouraged throughout the museum. With yearly rotating exhibits, a visit next week and a visit next year would be two different encounters. The current exhibitions, including “Laboratory for Other Worlds” by artist Patte Loper and “Night Blooms” by Tra Bouscaren, are on display until the new year.

4. Bicycle Heaven lies on the banks of the Ohio River on Preamble Street, providing a retreat for bicycle enthusiasts. This museum is dedicated to bicycles and doubles as a bike shop with antiques, collectibles and vintage parts for restoration. Bicycle Heaven is a non-profit museum, which relies on donations from visitors worldwide.

The museum was established by Criag and Mindy Morrow in 2011. Bikes can be fixed, tuned up or traded in for a newer or older bicycle. During a tune-up, visitors can view bikes that were props in movies such as “A Beautiful Mind,” “Super 8” and “Fathers & Daughters.”

5. Of course, staying on the south side of the Allegheny River is still a good time. The PPG MassMutual Ice Rink is now open in downtown Pittsburgh. Currently, tickets are $10 for admission and $4 for skates. In the new year, there will be student nights every Wednesday, when Pitt students can skate for $3 after showing their valid Pitt ID. Alexis Schult, a first-year neuroscience major, said she went Thursday night and plans to go back after break.

“I got on the ice and I totally forgot this was hard,” she said. “It ended up being so much fun. Even my friends who can’t really ice skate and they held onto the wall the whole time, enjoyed themselves.”

6. Staying inside Oakland, tickets can still be reserved for Phipps Conservatory’s “Holiday Magic!” flower and light show. There are pine trees decorated with gardening supplies and poinsettias in every room, with the warmth of a greenhouse you can almost forget it’s winter in Pittsburgh.

Emily Ryder, an undecided first-year, went before the fall recess when Phipps began setting up. She intends on going back this week to get into the holiday spirit and take her mind off of finals.

“A couple weekends ago they had just started setting up for the holidays,” she said. “So they had poinsettias out and they had one room that had some trees that were wonderfully done.”

Preparing for and de-escalating from the stress of finals week is exhausting — remember to take some time to have fun. Once exams are over, an activity to look forward can help — students deserve a reward for all the hard work done this week and this semester. 

“If you go downtown, you’re not wasting time,” Schult said. “You’re doing something fun and boosting your endorphins, which actually helps you during finals week.”

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